T-Bar or Truss Rod?

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michaelnel
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T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 254Post michaelnel
Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:59 pm

I understand the T-bar version is not adjustable and the TR version is. It seems the T-bar has some advantages:

* Lighter weight, so better balance with the small body
* No adjustments to make
* Less expensive

My feeling is that the T-bar is likely adequate for me. I have never had to adjust the TR on any Collings I have had, those guys build and set them up right and I tend to use the strings they recommend. I play my guitars at home and almost never travel with them. My guitars live in a pretty good environment with a humidifier that keeps them at right around 50% humidity and 65-75F temperature.

In *my* circumstances, is there any overriding reason to go with the TR version over the T-bar on a WL-14?

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michaelnel
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 255Post michaelnel
Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:12 pm

Well, I guess this is all academic. The Waterloo site says "All WL-14 models include an adjustable truss rod for convenient setup adjustment and flexibility.".

Not sure why I thought there were T-bar versions.

FreeBlues
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 257Post FreeBlues
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:14 pm

I'm confused! I own an earlier model Waterloo (#105), non-truss rod, but now see all current models come with a truss rod. So I guess Collings changed the specs.

That said, to answer the original question, my Waterloo neck is as straight and flat now as it was the day it arrived. I live in a climate that gets very, very dry at times, so even though things are fine when the guitar is at home - and properly humidified - when I take it out there can be some major fluctuations. Not a worry, never a problem.

If I were to buy again today, and if the option was available, I would again take the non-truss rod option for the reasons stated: light weight, no adjustments.

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michaelnel
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 258Post michaelnel
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:18 pm

Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto California shows some 14s with the T-bar in stock, so maybe they are NOS.

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elambo
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 259Post elambo
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:55 pm

This is the first I've heard of t-bars getting the axe. Maybe the demand wasn't there. I actually preferred the sound of that model, and it's the one I bought, but I understand how it might scare some people to be without a truss rod.

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michaelnel
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 270Post michaelnel
Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:49 pm

I ordered a WL-14 XTR "Boot Burst" from Mass Music. It should be here Monday.

electramone
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 284Post electramone
Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:27 pm

I have a T Bar WL-14. Love it. Black! I too just noticed that the site lists adjustable as the only option on newer models. Def a demand thing I would say. I actually know how to set up guitars well having worked in repair in my college-post college days and tend to tweak my guitars a bit obsessively. I purposely bought a T Bar model for the cool vintage vibe (love my buddies old D-18 w T Bar) and the fact that I will just PLAY this thing. The carbon fiber is very strong. Great guitar.

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michaelnel
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 290Post michaelnel
Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:04 pm

I'm sure the T-bar version would have been fine for me. Unfortunately the guitar I wanted is not available with that configuration.

electramone
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 292Post electramone
Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:31 pm

Enjoy the Boot Burst! Those look beautiful.

FreeBlues
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Re: T-Bar or Truss Rod?

Post: # 341Post FreeBlues
Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:58 pm

I am now able to provide a much more thorough response to the question of T-Bar or truss rod - plus the difference between the original "fat" neck and the "smaller neck " option. I've got one of each sitting in front of me, so here's my hand's on take.

Background, I bought Waterloo WL 14 X, #109 around the time they first came out (2 years?). For the most part I played at home, fingerstyle blues as well as couch and travel duty, so semi-light playing. But, at least a year ago I started using it as my main guitar in a gypsy jazz quartet. I was the rhythm player, so I spent loads of time chunking out chords, gig levels, hitting with some force, played a lot. The guitar is well broken in, punchy, focussed and much louder than its small size would leave you to believe.

At first I liked the neck a lot, it's BIG, has a VERY pronounced V shape. It's not for everyone, and not something I would order given the choice, but it worked. Then I injured my left - fretting - thumb, needed surgery to reattach the ligament that allows gripping. The lingering effect is my thumb gets fatigued with extended playing and I'm not nearly as clean as I would like, particularly on barre chords (all one plays in gypsy jazz). I also own a D1A (Varnish) with the Collings standard neck and a 290, also with the standard neck profile. Both these guitars have significantly slimmer necks and are much easier for me to play. Going back and forth from these to the Waterloo became a challenge.

Recently I had the opportunity to "trade" my original, T Bar, big neck guitar for a smaller neck, truss rod version (trade meaning I was able to buy and sell for about the same amount). So, here's how they compare and differ.

First the neck. While the "smaller" version is still pretty chunky, the profile is round, call it a D shape and therefore much more comfortable for me. Since getting the smaller profile was the only reason I made the change, I'm more than satisfied with the swap. That, however and somewhat sadly is the only advantage.

Maybe it's because I whacked the heck out of my original the tone is a lot better, bigger, more open, more complex, sweeter. The new model (#1536) is shallower, somewhat more 2D than 3D, kinda nasally tonally, not as loud. Okay, all that might (hopefully!) be a matter of break in, but if you were to play the two side-by-side I suspect you'd buy #109 every time. I would. It might be all in my head, but it feels like the T Bar version is a tiny bit lighter, maybe. Insignificant in any case. #109 has a long saddle vs. the drop in on #1536, so it looks cooler. The sunburst on #109 is darker, somewhat redder and, to my eye, preferable; #1536 is yellower and not as nice. Personal preference. The tuners on #1536 seem to work better, although they look identical.

So, mixed feelings. In terms of the neck profile I got all that I hoped for. For this reason alone I am perfectly happy with the trade and would do it again, every time. Unfortunately, the tone of the new, "smaller" profile is not as good. It might get there in time, maybe, but today it is lacking. Tough choice as far as trade offs go. Cosmetically I really prefer #109, but that's pretty superficial.

It's worth pondering if the tonal difference is also affected by the T Bar vs. truss rod. Impossible to say, but if I were buying new today and had the chance to play both side-by-side I'd be quite curious about the sonic difference or similarity. (Give the T Bar is no longer offered this is likely a moot point.)

Another note about T Bar vs. truss rod. In theory having a truss rod makes it much easier to adjust the relief. In practice, my T Bar model has been dead straight and flat since the day it arrived. Given the neck mass I find it hard to imagine that will change, at least for a long, long time. I live in a very, very dry climate (Northern New Mexico, Rocky Mountains, 7,000 feet), temperatures do fluctuate from high 80's in the summer to near zero in winter, so there is some stress on the guitar. I don't deal with humidity, except the need to add it. The guitar got played out a lot, so it frequently left the protection of my climate controlled music room, still never had a problem. My point being, for me, I wouldn't have any reluctance to buy a T Bar model again, just does not seem to be an issue. Heck, Collings makes these guitars and I suspect they know what they are doing!

So there you have it.

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